Letters to the Editor, South China Morning Post, August 18, 2012
Non-urgent cases can be deterred
In recent years many Hong Kong residents have misused the Hospital Authority's accident and emergency wards by seeking treatment for conditions which are not emergency cases.
This means that patients who may have genuinely serious ailments have to wait before medical personnel can attend to them.
A triage system is in place but accident and emergency services are still abused. In order to deal with this the health secretary should increase the HK$100 fee for emergency ward consultations to deter patients who are non-urgent cases. This sum is much lower than you would pay in other clinics or at private hospitals.
I would suggest doubling it to HK$200. This is the only way to deter individuals who could easily be treated elsewhere. They could be encouraged to attend outpatient clinics in the city. Also, the higher fee would mean that those patients who were in urgent need of treatment could be dealt with promptly.
Apart from cutting waiting times for emergency treatment, it would put less pressure on medical staff.
With fewer people waiting in a ward, doctors and nurses could spend more time with patients who really needed help.
Some might argue that doubling the fee would place an unfair financial burden on low-income families but they already receive subsidies for medical services in public hospitals.
The key to solving this problem is education. Many people misunderstand the purpose of accident and emergency wards. The government should run adverts and print posters so people realise that they can go instead to other clinics.
Chan Kit-ying, Ma On Shan
Political broadcast unwelcome
I appreciate that political parties in Hong Kong are pulling out all the stops with their campaigns for the Legislative Council elections next month.
However, I think that sometimes the campaigning goes too far.
On weekday afternoons at Tsing Hoi Circuit, Tuen Mun, the Democratic Party has been broadcasting its platform, outlining the policies that are supported by its candidates. The broadcast goes on, without a break, for 30 minutes.
I am a Form Five pupil at a secondary school and have to cope with an exam-oriented curriculum. I realise schools are still closed for the summer break, but I still need to do revision and this daily noise is an unwelcome distraction.
The Democrats should realise that mere rhetoric will not win votes. Actions speak louder than words.
Teddy Chiu, Tuen Mun
Poor decision lies with chief executive
Alex Lo blames "pan-democrats, their media allies and more shadowy pro-establishment forces" for giving Hong Kong an unsuitable development secretary ("Blow to community born of dirty politics", August 13).
His reasoning is simple to follow. Hong Kong media dug and found dirt on the previous incumbent, forcing him to resign and paving the way for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to appoint an inadequate replacement who was probably chosen, says Lo, because he was the sole member of the Legislative Council to nominate Leung for the post of chief executive.
Surely reasonable people can agree that neither the media nor pan-democrats name anyone to government posts but that this is done by the chief executive. I am sure we can further agree that the responsibility for a poor decision lies with and only with the person making the decision.
Political oppositions have the job of opposing. The media has the job of telling the public truths that are often unpleasant to those in power.
Any criticism of these roles in this case smacks of a desire to distract from an unpleasant truth: C.Y. Leung messed up, and he's doing a poor job so far of fixing his mistake.
John Ryan, Repulse Bay
Ban shooting events from the Olympics
Why do the Olympic Games still feature the use of deadly weapons? I refer to the shooting events that include pistols and rifles.
Such tools of destruction should have been banned from the Games long ago. They were originally included because of the influence of military men in European affairs a century ago. Their followers have continued to thwart the peaceful evolution of international sport by their worship of weapons.
Guns were invented to kill animals in hunting or fellow humans on the battlefield. To allow such primitive and cruel instincts into the Olympics is a scandal. Their presence is a sign of humanity's love of destructive power.
Of course, some simple-minded people will reply that the Olympics has always included archery and the lance which originated as weapons. Yes, but times have changed and our primitive ideas should change, too.
Besides, these "sporting" items at least require some strength and muscular effort. But how much effort is required to pull a trigger?
To equate a gold medal awarded for pulling a trigger a few times with a gold for running with all one's effort for hundreds or thousands of metres is obscene.
We can be sure that any effort to remove the gun from the Olympics will be fiercely opposed by the nations that win medals and manufacture and sell weapons internationally, for example, the US, China and most European nations.
But only if peace-loving people demand the elimination of guns from the Olympic movement can this event truly promote international peace and the reduction of gun violence in modern society.
Are there any peace-loving Olympic figures in Hong Kong and on the mainland?
J. Garner, Sham Shui Po
Are electric buses the answer?
Thomas London encourages Hong Kong to take advantage of the latest technology in electric buses ("Missing the bus", August 13). I agree the city should be looking for ways to replace the ageing bus fleet, but electrically powered models may not be the answer.
It has been said that the two electrical utilities are a major cause of pollution in Hong Kong, so I am sceptical about claims that these buses might be seen as anti-pollution saviours.
John Yuan, Beijing
Storm water a wasted resource
I took a picture of a storm drain at Pak Kong Au, Sai Kung, during Severe Typhoon Vicente last month.
The storm water was almost up to the handrail on a pedestrian bridge, and, as the storm lasted for hours, there must have been massive amounts of water passing through this one of many thousands of purpose-built storm nullahs, or storm drains, located all over Hong Kong.
Whenever we experience a decent downpour, these nullahs must have thousands of tonnes of fresh water (albeit untreated) rushing through every hour. Why is it then that the government spends a fortune building these storm nullahs, which channel the water straight into the sea?
Why are we not investing and doing more to capture this free resource that literally falls from the sky? Is water too difficult to treat?
Could the relevant departments please provide reasons why we are not capitalising on this manna from the sky?
This is especially relevant when one considers that we are constantly being reminded that we need to preserve our precious water.
Andrew Maxwell, chairman, Friends of Sai Kung
Pressure to cope with timetable
I refer to the letter by Ken Chan ("Pupils forfeit holidays to catch up", August 10).
It is quite common now for secondary pupils to have extra lessons during the summer holidays to prepare for public exams.
This state of affairs is inevitable under the new 3+3+4 system of education. With this set-up and the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, pupils have a wide-ranging curriculum.
In addition there are the school-based assessments. Teachers have to spend a lot of time working out the projects that will be undertaken by pupils for these assessments and this is very time-consuming. This means that they simply do not have enough time to cover all aspects of a subject in the classroom.
The system does not just force pupils to take additional lessons, it also eats into a teacher's summer break.
As someone who has been directly affected by the government's adoption of this new academic policy I can fully understand the pressure felt by pupils and by teachers as they struggle with such a crowded timetable.
Teachers and pupils must work together and deal with the difficulties they face. It may mean hardship, but at the end of the day it will be worth the effort.
Yu Chun-leung, Tsuen Wan